Blue Quills (Global, fourth video, 24 January 2023)

Blue Quills (Global, fourth video, 24 January 2023)



NOTE:  See also my transcript of the APTN News video posted 19 May 2022, in which Eric Large says he uncovered human remains which consisted of a small rib cage attached to a spine, and a small skull:

[HEADING ON SCREEN:  Alberta First Nation investigating possible burial sites of children

Eric Large:  For myself, I was shocked.

Kim Smith:  Looking back, Eric Large says he simply didn’t know what to do.  Large is a residential school survivor.  In 2017 he was doing work excavating new gravesites at a community cemetery when he uncovered unexpected human remains.

Eric Large:  I came across uh some small bones.  I, I couldn’t tell what they were, I mean from what parts of the body.

Kim Smith:  For almost 20 years, since around 2004, members of the Saddle Lake Cree Nation northeast of Edmonton have been making similar discoveries.  Community members say they are believed to be children found near the former Blue Quills Residential School site.  [NOTE: THE WRONG PHOTO IS SHOWN HERE] 

Eric Large:  It can be safely stated that in our community of 12,000 people each family has had four to five children who went missing from this institution.

Jason Whiskeyjack:  I try to find a way to block it out of my mind.

Kim Smith:  Saddle Lake council member Jason Whiskeyjack says he’s also accidentally found remains over the years.

Jason Whiskeyjack [reading from a paper]:  None of the graves had markings of any sort such as cross or headstones.  All of the, the skeleton remains were the size of young children.

Kim Smith:  Last year the Saddle Lake Cree Nation formed an Indigenous-led society to investigate the possible burial sites and mass graves.  Catholic Church records obtained by the group show 212 children died at the school which operated until 1931.

Leah Redcrow:  A lot of us have family members that we didn’t even know died in this institution, and our families never told us.

Kim Smith:  The First Nation is now asking community members to come forward to do family tree mapping, hoping to identify the children.  It’s also hoping for funding support of ground penetrating radar.

Jason Whiskeyjack:  I don’t think there’s any need for us to be hitting any more.

Kim Smith:  The pain caused by a dark chapter of Canada’s past now being confronted by another community.  Kim Smith, Global News.

Transcribed by Nina Green, 12 February 2024.